Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

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Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 03, 2017 1:34 pm

Seeking general advice/input on the following:

I am currently planning a post-bar trip that will put me in the Middle East for a week or two in early September. My summer firm, where I will be starting in late September has a small office in Dubai, and while I am not interested in moving to that office, I would be interested in working on middle-eastern matters and traveling occasionally to the middle east (I am a litigator, interested in FCPA/White Collar/Investigations, and have some proficiency in Arabic and a background in Middle Eastern Studies).

I am wondering if it would be a good idea for me to reach out to one or more of the attorneys in the Dubai office and see if I can set up a time to have lunch with them while I am in Dubai. I would love the opportunity to visit their offices and get on their radar, so that if they have any work that they need a US-based litigator on, they would think of me (my firm regularly staffs matters across offices).

I realize that international biglaw offices work a lot differently than US-based offices, and nearly all of the lawyers there (at least the litigators) are UK/Scottish/Irish/Australian/Middle Eastern-trained lawyers. My question is: is it worth reaching out to them? would they be receptive? should I email the partner in charge of the office, or a partner/associate who does litigation/FCPA in that office about setting something up? Should I ask them to lunch/dinner, or just ask if I could stop by to check out their office? Does anybody have general experience with the culture/feel of international biglaw offices and how they view their US counterparts?

I cant really think of a way to determine whether this plan would be acceptable, or how I would best go about this, so I thought I would open it up to TLS. Any and all advice is appreciated.

[Edit: remove a piece of identifying info]
Last edited by Anonymous User on Thu May 04, 2017 11:15 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 03, 2017 3:51 pm

To preface this: (1) I think this is probably highly specific to the firm, location, office, person, and timing, so really hard to say....; but (2) definitely always inquire, show interest, etc., as that can rarely hurt and will provide an opportunity to form potentially rewarding connections; (3) I have no experience with Dubai/middle-eastern culture.

That being said, my impression from a V50 global firm (U.S. office) is that very few partners -at least busy ones - would be thrilled to spend a substantial period of time (e.g., lunch/dinner) with a random incoming associate that is not yet specifically in their practice group. This might change if there was something particularly interesting about you, or you had something to offer to them (I'm not sure what this would be). If Partners are receptive to having you come by to introduce yourself, there would definitely be some potential benefit in you having some face-time with them, as you've indicated you may be interested in working on matters in the future there. Perhaps you can also connect with some senior or managing associates that can delegate simple work to you once you get started.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby jhett » Wed May 03, 2017 3:57 pm

Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to visit one of your firm's overseas offices if you just happen to be there. Remember to bring business casual clothing though - don't show up in casual traveling attire.

I wouldn't contact any people that work there directly if you don't know any of them. Find someone in the US that you know (preferably a partner in the same group) that can make an introduction to someone over there. The person who introduces you should also know and be supportive of your practice interests - that will increase the chance of a good reception by the overseas folks. I would probably start by suggesting an office visit and a coffee. If they counter-offer for lunch/dinner on the firm's dime, go ham. The office culture depends on the origins of the office - did the firm acquire it, or grow it organically? If it's organic and populated by lawyers that moved from other offices, it will likely be similar to the overall firm culture. If it has been acquired, all bets are off.

Lastly, don't you just want to relax on your bar trip? You'll have to be in "professional" mode for this part of the trip, but hey, it's your prerogative.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby trebekismyhero » Wed May 03, 2017 4:30 pm

jhett wrote:Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to visit one of your firm's overseas offices if you just happen to be there. Remember to bring business casual clothing though - don't show up in casual traveling attire.

I wouldn't contact any people that work there directly if you don't know any of them. Find someone in the US that you know (preferably a partner in the same group) that can make an introduction to someone over there. The person who introduces you should also know and be supportive of your practice interests - that will increase the chance of a good reception by the overseas folks. I would probably start by suggesting an office visit and a coffee. If they counter-offer for lunch/dinner on the firm's dime, go ham. The office culture depends on the origins of the office - did the firm acquire it, or grow it organically? If it's organic and populated by lawyers that moved from other offices, it will likely be similar to the overall firm culture. If it has been acquired, all bets are off.

Lastly, don't you just want to relax on your bar trip? You'll have to be in "professional" mode for this part of the trip, but hey, it's your prerogative.


Agree with this 100%

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby lolwat » Wed May 03, 2017 4:41 pm

jhett wrote:Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to visit one of your firm's overseas offices if you just happen to be there. Remember to bring business casual clothing though - don't show up in casual traveling attire.

I wouldn't contact any people that work there directly if you don't know any of them. Find someone in the US that you know (preferably a partner in the same group) that can make an introduction to someone over there. The person who introduces you should also know and be supportive of your practice interests - that will increase the chance of a good reception by the overseas folks. I would probably start by suggesting an office visit and a coffee. If they counter-offer for lunch/dinner on the firm's dime, go ham. The office culture depends on the origins of the office - did the firm acquire it, or grow it organically? If it's organic and populated by lawyers that moved from other offices, it will likely be similar to the overall firm culture. If it has been acquired, all bets are off.

Lastly, don't you just want to relax on your bar trip? You'll have to be in "professional" mode for this part of the trip, but hey, it's your prerogative.


Hrm... knowing nothing about any cultural differences and such, while I'd agree with starting by finding someone in the US that can introduce you to someone in the Dubai office, I don't think it's necessarily bad to contact someone there even if you don't know anyone. My general experience is that as long as you aren't totally stupid about how you go around trying to network and meet people, the worst people ever do is just ignore your e-mail. More often than not attorneys actually don't mind spending a few minutes if they feel they can be helpful to someone. I've probably eaten up $100k worth of billable time of various partners at various firms throughout my law school years and career just because they were all willing to meet and talk to me over coffee or lunch. Some of them I had no connection to at all. In this case you already have a slight connection because you're starting at the same firm they're at.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Npret » Wed May 03, 2017 5:17 pm

Get an invitation first to be polite. A small office might not be able to accommodate your schedule and might not want to say no directly. Contact HR or someone you know that works with that office and see what they suggest. Follow their directions. If you go be professional, polite and brief.

To be honest something about this seems weird to me --though I guess since you've studied Arabic and might want to work with them someday is a reason.

For example, I just can't think of a single associate from another office that came by the NYC office just to visit if they were in town on vacation. Maybe if they had worked with people before they would get together but does anyone visit the office to say "hi!" while they are in town?

Just ask someone from your firm and see what they say.
This is different than cold emailing a stranger because you don't know anything about the relationships between the offices. It's probably no big deal and I'm overly cautious.
Edit: I'm probably way too negative based on other posts.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 03, 2017 5:39 pm

Npret wrote:To be honest something about this seems weird to me --though I guess since you've studied Arabic and might want to work with them someday is a reason.

For example, I just can't think of a single associate from another office that came by the NYC office just to visit if they were in town on vacation. Maybe if they had worked with people before they would get together but does anyone visit the office to say "hi!" while they are in town?


OP here, I had a similar feeling re: awkwardness/weirdness, and I appreciate the input. If it were just any old office in a city I was visiting I probably wouldn't even consider it, but I figure that since I would really like to be staffed on FCPA/Investigations matters in the middle east, this might be a smart play.

I don't really know any FCPA/Investigations partners at the firm in my home office who could make such an introduction (yet, since I haven't started). I am considering contacting the HR/Recruiting director I have dealt with a lot, or possibly another U.S. partner who may be able to point me in the right direction.

Putting myself in the shoes of an associate (or Partner?) in Dubai, I wouldn't mind grabbing lunch with someone who will be joining my firm/practice area in another office, and who is interested in working on matters in my neck of the woods. However, I don't know if I should just assume that a UK-trained, Dubai-based attorney thinks the same way about professional networking/development/firm collegiality as a U.S.-trained/based attorney.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby trebekismyhero » Wed May 03, 2017 5:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Npret wrote:To be honest something about this seems weird to me --though I guess since you've studied Arabic and might want to work with them someday is a reason.

For example, I just can't think of a single associate from another office that came by the NYC office just to visit if they were in town on vacation. Maybe if they had worked with people before they would get together but does anyone visit the office to say "hi!" while they are in town?


OP here, I had a similar feeling re: awkwardness/weirdness, and I appreciate the input. If it were just any old office in a city I was visiting I probably wouldn't even consider it, but I figure that since I would really like to be staffed on FCPA/Investigations matters in the middle east, this might be a smart play.

I don't really know any FCPA/Investigations partners at the firm in my home office who could make such an introduction (yet, since I haven't started). I am considering contacting the HR/Recruiting director I have dealt with a lot, or possibly another U.S. partner who may be able to point me in the right direction.

Putting myself in the shoes of an associate (or Partner?) in Dubai, I wouldn't mind grabbing lunch with someone who will be joining my firm/practice area in another office, and who is interested in working on matters in my neck of the woods. However, I don't know if I should just assume that a UK-trained, Dubai-based attorney thinks the same way about professional networking/development/firm collegiality as a U.S.-trained/based attorney.


Until you start practice and especially when you're busy you won't exactly know. I try to be helpful to law students as much as I can, especially since associates and partners were really helpful to me during law school, but I would be annoyed if someone I didn't know asked for more than coffee.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 03, 2017 5:51 pm

jhett wrote:Lastly, don't you just want to relax on your bar trip? You'll have to be in "professional" mode for this part of the trip, but hey, it's your prerogative.

I'm planning a bar trip to the Middle East in the middle of the summer, after all, so I am clearly a glutton for punishment :oops: ...

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 03, 2017 6:05 pm

trebekismyhero wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Npret wrote:To be honest something about this seems weird to me --though I guess since you've studied Arabic and might want to work with them someday is a reason.

For example, I just can't think of a single associate from another office that came by the NYC office just to visit if they were in town on vacation. Maybe if they had worked with people before they would get together but does anyone visit the office to say "hi!" while they are in town?


OP here, I had a similar feeling re: awkwardness/weirdness, and I appreciate the input. If it were just any old office in a city I was visiting I probably wouldn't even consider it, but I figure that since I would really like to be staffed on FCPA/Investigations matters in the middle east, this might be a smart play.

I don't really know any FCPA/Investigations partners at the firm in my home office who could make such an introduction (yet, since I haven't started). I am considering contacting the HR/Recruiting director I have dealt with a lot, or possibly another U.S. partner who may be able to point me in the right direction.

Putting myself in the shoes of an associate (or Partner?) in Dubai, I wouldn't mind grabbing lunch with someone who will be joining my firm/practice area in another office, and who is interested in working on matters in my neck of the woods. However, I don't know if I should just assume that a UK-trained, Dubai-based attorney thinks the same way about professional networking/development/firm collegiality as a U.S.-trained/based attorney.


Until you start practice and especially when you're busy you won't exactly know. I try to be helpful to law students as much as I can, especially since associates and partners were really helpful to me during law school, but I would be annoyed if someone I didn't know asked for more than coffee.


So coffee > lunch is the prevailing wisdom? (at least as my opening offer).

Also, I think it would be weird to ask multiple associates out for coffee (at least logistically), but it seems unfortunate to have to just randomly pick one person to cold-email when there are three or four who do the type of work i'm interested in there. I guess this problem might be solved by securing an introduction from a U.S.-based partner, as that partner might just email the entire practice group in that office to see if anyone is interested in meeting me.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby BigZuck » Wed May 03, 2017 6:09 pm

You're a litigator, but you haven't passed the bar yet?

I'm calling flame

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Npret » Wed May 03, 2017 7:44 pm

Just ask your HR contact for advice. It's a good thought and you won't look silly asking the question. I'm sure they will help you out.

Maybe the Dubai office wants to meet an incoming associate and will be pleased you want to take time from your vacation.

It would be a shame to miss an opportunity if it works out. So just ask.

I agree that it's different visiting a small office halfway around the world then popping in to NYC just because you're in town.

I would not in any case randomly email someone in another office. Don't do that.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Pokemon » Wed May 03, 2017 9:53 pm

I am surprised everyone is so positive about this. This just sounds weird. Contacting Hr, reaching to partners, and all this for marginal benefit (the Dubai office thinking of them, like some partners do not recognize associates in their office a few feet from the). Like I am not saying it is completely weird, but not even somewhat?
Op should do this after he starts work at firm.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Npret » Wed May 03, 2017 10:28 pm

Pokemon wrote:I am surprised everyone is so positive about this. This just sounds weird. Contacting Hr, reaching to partners, and all this for marginal benefit (the Dubai office thinking of them, like some partners do not recognize associates in their office a few feet from the). Like I am not saying it is completely weird, but not even somewhat?
Op should do this after he starts work at firm.


I think there is nothing wrong with asking HR. Let them set OP straight. I said it sounded weird to me as well.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 04, 2017 3:16 pm

I would try to meet with a senior associate/midlevel/counsel vs a partner. Not sure if partners have the time to be honest (or interest) in meeting a first year.

I lateralled to my firm a little over a year ago and I took a trip and wanted to connect with this counsel that did work that I was interested in. I ended up not doing it thinking that I could connect with them a few weeks/months later since that person is in my group. However, it turned out that he left the same month that I arrived. Now, I am interested in moving to that market and I wish I would have at least had a lukewarm connection to get advice. It is always good to make connections, you never know how it may help you in the future.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 04, 2017 4:15 pm

I'm a UK lawyer in an overseas office of a US firm (not Dubai). I think if a partner in our office got that email they'd pass it on to one of the junior associates. Any of us would happily meet you for a coffee, but we would definitely think you were unnecessarily keen, and we'd probably have a bit of a laugh about it among ourselves. It wouldn't reflect negatively on you and it is always good to network and show you're interested in all aspects of the firm... but I'm not sure there's that much benefit for you here. If you end up working with people in the Dubai office, then they'll get to know you then.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Npret » Thu May 04, 2017 4:28 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I'm a UK lawyer in an overseas office of a US firm (not Dubai). I think if a partner in our office got that email they'd pass it on to one of the junior associates. Any of us would happily meet you for a coffee, but we would definitely think you were unnecessarily keen, and we'd probably have a bit of a laugh about it among ourselves. It wouldn't reflect negatively on you and it is always good to network and show you're interested in all aspects of the firm... but I'm not sure there's that much benefit for you here. If you end up working with people in the Dubai office, then they'll get to know you then.

"Unnecessarily keen" is an excellent phrase.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Anonymous User » Thu May 04, 2017 8:48 pm

I would definitely ask to visit! During spring break, I happened to be visiting an Asian city where my firm has an office. When I told the firm about the trip afterwards, the recruiter and a partner I worked with said I should have let them know in advance so that they could introduce me to certain people in that office.

I am now planning my bar trip for the summer, and will be passing through yet another non-US city where my firm has an office. This time, I told the partners I work with. One of them introduced me by e-mail to the managing partner and a practice head (not even my own practice group) in that office. We had a brief chat over the phone about that city, what I should do during my time there, and finally they invited me to visit the office.

Think about: If the firm isn't paying for the trip, and you're not yet billing time, this is the "cheapest" way for more partners to get to know you.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Fri May 05, 2017 12:27 pm

Npret wrote:
Pokemon wrote:I am surprised everyone is so positive about this. This just sounds weird. Contacting Hr, reaching to partners, and all this for marginal benefit (the Dubai office thinking of them, like some partners do not recognize associates in their office a few feet from the). Like I am not saying it is completely weird, but not even somewhat?
Op should do this after he starts work at firm.


I think there is nothing wrong with asking HR. Let them set OP straight. I said it sounded weird to me as well.

I also think this is pretty weird. Any firm that has a dubai office probably has about 500 associates. It strikes me as a bit odd to think they will care to meet an incoming first year in an office across the globe who isn't even there yet. I dunno, it probably won't hurt much, but I don't get it.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Jchance » Fri May 05, 2017 1:33 pm

Regardless of whether that non-US office has 500 attorneys or not, say if the Dubai office needs an US associate to bill for some work, assuming they know no US partners, they wouldn't know whom to contact. So having met an US associate in person (and vetting him/her) is a plus for future needs.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby dixiecupdrinking » Fri May 05, 2017 1:51 pm

Jchance wrote:Regardless of whether that non-US office has 500 attorneys or not, say if the Dubai office needs an US associate to bill for some work, assuming they know no US partners, they wouldn't know whom to contact. So having met an US associate in person (and vetting him/her) is a plus for future needs.

I guess this depends on how your firm works. I can't imagine they would "know no US partners." But if you're in an extremely free market firm with offices that are very distinct, then I guess I can see it.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Npret » Fri May 05, 2017 1:57 pm

Jchance wrote:Regardless of whether that non-US office has 500 attorneys or not, say if the Dubai office needs an US associate to bill for some work, assuming they know no US partners, they wouldn't know whom to contact. So having met an US associate in person (and vetting him/her) is a plus for future needs.


They know the managing partner and department heads at minimum. No way a foreign office contacts a 1st year they had coffe with out of the blue because they don't know how to deal with the NYC (or wherever) office.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Pokemon » Fri May 05, 2017 3:21 pm

Jchance wrote:Regardless of whether that non-US office has 500 attorneys or not, say if the Dubai office needs an US associate to bill for some work, assuming they know no US partners, they wouldn't know whom to contact. So having met an US associate in person (and vetting him/her) is a plus for future needs.


Hmm... no partner will call some 1st year they had to meet for coffee that happens to be across the globe for some legal work. And no way no partner knows no US partners. Legal work in biglaw is fairly structured, you have teams, nature of work, repeat clients, you do not throw a dart and hope you hit the right associate for some brand new work that you all of the sudden need the expertise of New York junior associate. Also, there are a lot of politics in biglaw: maybe Dubai office is not pulling its weight and they are desperate for more work rather than giving work away. Maybe they hate the guts of the partner in US office that will supervise op because that partner got them conflicted out of some local client. However, OP will probably not get harmed by doing this cause everyone will realize he is a stupid 1st year wasting their time... he will not just gain anything.

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Re: Visiting one of my biglaw firm's international offices (Dubai) during my bar trip

Postby Anonymous User » Fri May 05, 2017 6:11 pm

Pokemon wrote:Hmm... no partner will call some 1st year they had to meet for coffee that happens to be across the globe for some legal work. And no way no partner knows no US partners. Legal work in biglaw is fairly structured, you have teams, nature of work, repeat clients, you do not throw a dart and hope you hit the right associate for some brand new work that you all of the sudden need the expertise of New York junior associate. Also, there are a lot of politics in biglaw: maybe Dubai office is not pulling its weight and they are desperate for more work rather than giving work away. Maybe they hate the guts of the partner in US office that will supervise op because that partner got them conflicted out of some local client. However, OP will probably not get harmed by doing this cause everyone will realize he is a stupid 1st year wasting their time... he will not just gain anything.

I don't buy the argument that an international partner won't know at least one or two U.S. partners to reach out to about staffing if they need to. But in the context of a true "free-market" firm, how is this that much different than a junior associate reaching out to a specific partner he doesn't know to tell her that he has some bandwidth and is interested in working with her in the future, so that she might think of him the next time she has to staff a new matter? Yes, it seems uncomfortable and gunnerish, but my understanding is that this is not far removed from how junior associates get work in true "free-market" firms, at least starting out, before they develop a reputation or join a particular practice group.



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